Wimminz – celebrating skank ho's everywhere

December 31, 2013

NSA, sex or spying

It amuses me that the National Security Agency shares an acronym with a type of casual sex known as No Strings Attached.

It amuses me that millions of people can watch Bond movies and be amazed at the gadgets from Q division, then act horrified when they find out the NSA (and every fucker else) has 99 different ways to hack into a PC including embedding shit in VGA cables, USB cables, RJ45 ports, etc etc etc


It amuses me that so many people think you have said something profound and intelligent when you say “And Bill Gates walks into a Shanghai sneaker factory, and everyone is a millionaire, on average….” into a conversation about cost of living and inflation and average wages.

It amuses me that when people discuss distasteful stuff like paedophilia or incest or bestiality, they think that evil abusers + poor victims = 99% of all cases, and not just the 1% of all cases that were so unhappy about it they complained, when there is no particular real reason for only these crimes to be comprised only of abusers and victims, which doesn’t add up, for every other crime there is a whole milieu of activity that may well be criminal, but all the participants are quite happy to carry on partaking.

It amuses me that merely asking for a scientific proof of something before making a law criminalising everyone is equated to being either an apologist for that thing or worse still a believer in that thing.

It amuses me that at 14:07 hours someone can be quite happy to live in a certain place, talk to a certain person, buy a certain product, and at 14:08, though nothing FACTUAL has changed one iota, except that someone just got some extra data that they personally were not aware of before, they are no longer happy about anything.

It amuses me perhaps most of all that despite the fact that we now live in a 24/7 world of IT, and despite the fact that my job is field engineer, and my office is manned 24/7 and I am on call, the traditional 2 week fuck all happens Christmas and new year hiatus still applies, and January will be as dead as it always is in IT, when there is zero technical or physical reason for this seasonal hiatus, yet, when it is over, suddenly everything is going to be very very very urgent all over again.


I’ve spent that last couple of days talking to a couple of guys determined to better themselves, and to this end they are investing a considerable amount of their own time and own money to get Cisco and Microsoft certification.

So they turned to me, as someone actually earning money in this field, for my opinion, it wasn’t what they thought it would be, as inevitably you can’t discuss employment and salary without touching on the wider economy… but… here is what I told them.


At my level / role / position, you can’t really extrapolate to other roles / levels positions, sure, a full set of Cisco and MS certificates will be the kind of thing the guy pulling a solid high 5 low 6 digit salary will be holding, and sure, that guy will have forgotten more about such subjects than I will ever know, but….


You can’t say with any authority that having all those certs will guarantee you that sort of job at that sort of salary, but you can pretty much guarantee that if you do have (the full set) them, nobody is going to offer you MY job at MY pay scale, even if you were happy enough to take it.


So, despite it being the same field, that guy with all the certs, and me with decades of field experience, actually don’t have much in common, any more than the guy who fills the ATM at your local bank branch has in common with the regional accountant for that same bank.


At *my* level, I tend to see the same faults over and over and over again, do the job 12 months and you have probably seen them all at least once, that doesn’t really give you/me a good basis for assessing the value of the full set of certs, or the capabilities of someone with them… however….


Two other things that are not necessarily congruent are a body holding a full set of certs, and that same body actually having a functioning brain…. I have *literally* had conversations with people holding said certificates doing the remote while I am on-site, and I have had to repeat myself three fucking times to explain the concept of a fucking “air gap”, eg the cable ain’t plugged in / there is no electrical or data connection, ergo no data is going to pass between these two items, eg the thing you are talking about cannot fucking physically happen.

So of course the obvious parallels here are to our leaders, our bosses, our CEO’s, our bankers and economists and politicians.

They are all certificated up the wazoo too, but, we only notice the ones with the certification who can’t do the fucking job, because they have the certs but not a functioning brain.

I *do* come across those who have the certs *and* a functioning brain, in fact quite a lot of my fellow employees and colleagues fall into that category… but I recognise that I am in the minority in being able to say that, if I worked in retail for instance I would not be able to.

Which brings us back to our two chaps pursuing certification.

They are in place X career / employment wise, and they hope these bits of paper will put them in place Y career / employment wise, because, being brutally honest here, these are about the only options on the table.

Statistically speaking, they have as much chance of making it to that high 5 low 6 digit salary in a place Y career as they do of getting a job alongside me, but at least the path they are taking has an established procedure, the path I took looks like nothing more than random chance / luck / chaos theory at work.

Speaking factually, the guy who took a chance on me and gave me the job was worried, even after spending a couple of weeks at HQ boning up on their shit, because the only way he could asses me was to ask me a couple of questions, just like an exam, just like a cert…. and my answers were correct, but slow in coming, because I was running through them in detail before actually speaking.

Meanwhile the guy who has spent two weeks with me making sure I knew their shit told the other guy “he’ll be fine” – “you sure?” – “yup

Which very very neatly highlights the problem with certs.

Cisco and MS particularly try to address this by making the exams *hard* as in you get hundreds of questions that cover all areas of everything, but then you get a vicious feedback cycle, and the tuition then becomes cramming and committing to memory type learning, rather than real understanding type learning.

So I will get guys who hold ALL the certs telling me that the noise, signal and attenuation numbers for the line, which are measures in dB, which is a logarithmic scale, don’t really matter, because the coursework is concerned with how for example a xDSL connection works in theory, but to understand that properly you have to understand the telecomms side of things and the cabling side of things to, which these certs don’t cover.

This started YEARS ago, I am one of the last few that experienced a secondary school eduction that featured “Chemistry” lessons, and “Physical Chemistry” lessons (ditto physics etc) where you actually went into the chemistry lab and attempted to replicate what you had learned from the books in the classroom based chemistry lessons.

I won’t even bother trying to number the amount of times or regularity with which I would sit there in the class just not getting any of the shit I was being taught, sure, I was hearing it, and could muddle through when coaxed by the teacher, but none of it was sinking in or making any proper sense, I wasn’t actually LEARNING…. then we would go to the lab, try and replicate that stuff physically, and suddenly it all just fell into place and made sense, made so much sense that my brain took it, processed it, and ran with it, so for example we were being taught at 13/14 about the various bonds and structures of the various forms of carbon (this was before buckminster) and it became obvious that these were like the tiles on a floor, great, but what happens at the edges, if you print all these out of paper and cut the paper in half you get all messy sticky out bits, aha, teacher says, surface chemistry, this is a whole other field of chemistry, go to university if you want to study THAT…

You see the problem here.

You end up with certificates up the wazoo types, which is a bit like those that persevered in classroom chemistry, they’re good, but there is little true knowledge and understanding. Ther can fire up the CAD workstation and simulators and design a car.

And the me types, haven’t got a (relevant to Cisco or MS) piece of paper to wipe my ass with, but, within the limited roles of responsibility that I have, eg a grease monkey for t’intertubez, I’m a good guy.

Nowhere is there an Issigonis, a Chapman, a Brunel, and more importantly, nowhere is there the kind of guy they would employ and work with on a day to day basis….

Which makes it really difficult, getting back to the two guys pursuing certs, to know what to say, or advise them, or even just how much truth in required when answering their questions… at what point does truth become non-helpful.

There are the territories knowledge and skill wise where I work now, I can’t go much higher, it gets rarefied real fast, and the level of effort I have to put in rises real fast, and the remuneration for all this extra effort and so on is not an up front deal, so where is the incentive, given I can live on what I earn now, and work basically fuck all,

Let’s take device X, call it a Cisco box.

One of the factors limiting the quantity and quality of certified guys available to connect to that box is your budget, that is pretty much as it has always been, but, it is now a global marketplace, if I want to start a new business ISP that always has 10 x CCNP + 2 x CCIE + 1 x CCT on 24/7 availability I can go out and hire that, and I don’t care if they are Chinese or Indian or Brazilian or Martian, except the ping times might make things difficult for the Martian.

It’s no big deal.

One of the other factors limiting the quantity and quality of certified guys available to connect to that box is the physical connection, there has to fucking be one.

If the box is dead swap it out or reflash the config or IOS, if it is a cable or switch issue again someone has to go onsite, and again ultimately if there is 3g coverage all you need is a guy with a 3g tethered laptop connected directly to device X, and some remote control software.

Yes, there are middle grounds, there are times when the ideal solution is to get a certified network security guy on-site with direct physical access to the switch layer, but these cases aren’t the bulk of it.

The bulk of it is the hands on guys on site need to be good enough all rounders, to ensure that the cubicle guys with all the certs can connect and do their thing.

Right there, it isn’t just a case of certification = salary any more, it is a case of do you wanna effectively be your own boss on the road every day to a different physical site, or do you wanna be a cubicle guy.

The potential employer has two good reasons not to give the guy with all the certs the field job, one, he is overqualified so will prolly walk for more money, and two, it is not exploiting his abilities in return for the maximum revenue for the company.

What do I tell these two guys, who clearly haven’t even considered being the red stapler guy in the cubicle in return for this high salary.

Which job is more resistant to both emerging technologies, eg cisco going from command line to just checking some radio boxes in a GUI, and virtualisation, eg not a physical router layer but a virtual one, and to the ongoing financial pressures of outsourcing?

Under certain circumstances, that 420 second ping to Mars vs the 0.15 second ping to Mumbai might not be a show stopper, if the Martian is willing to work for 10% of what the agency in Mumbai is asking.

Would the certified guys be willing to relocate to Mumbai and take a 90% drop in salary to keep their jobs?

You see, the other thing, because I tend to see the same shit over and over again, I get very good at it, the certified up the wazoo guy may spend 0.5% of his time coming across these issues, but I spend 90% of my time on them, so within a year *I* am the expert with the specific experience, and because we are only talking about that small sub-section of all that the certified up the wazoo guys know, it’s my specialist subject, and they think I am hot shit.

I get to shine….. without trying.

Big fish in a small pond…lol

You see why I think I have (while it lasts) a great job.

You see why trying to advise these two other guys is so difficult, and despite their ambitions, I do not envy them one bit.

November 13, 2013

Follow the money… even if it isn’t at first obvious.

In my day job, Cisco kit is *very* popular, for values of “very” that compare with android vs blackberry market share.

This isn’t because cisco kit is good, it is now all made in china and very cheaply too.

It is all because of the two pronged thing that is Cisco IOS and Cisco certification.

Cisco IOS + certification means anyone anywhere with a TCP connection can log in to your switch or router and admin it*****, so cheap Chinese hardware and cheap outsourced to Mumbai tech support means major mark-up to the product hyped and sold here in the west.

***** Except when this isn’t true, and the only way in is in person with a console cable, or the cheap Chinese hardware is dead and the only way in is in person to swap it out.**********

********** And it is THIS that virtual machines are designed to eliminate, nothing else, that is the unique selling point that matters, not any of the other reasons given.

If you were to ask me what to buy, I’d tell you to buy Draytek, it’s less money and better kit.

As an aside, there are still niches, when it comes to bonded EFM / SHDSL it is still pretty much http://www.rad.com or nobody in real life on the ground, as in I can’t remember the last time I saw anything else, same as anything picking up a BT fibre connection is going to be an Adva box.

In all of these above if you follow the money you can see why the decisions were made that were made, even though technically the same or better results could have been achieved for less money, a bit like in the 80’s the Equipu copier guy who came around every two weeks to fix the copier, that is how the company that supplied the copier made money, not by supplying the copier or toner, but by the constant and ongoing support it needed, that you were not told about when signing up.

I know a very wealthy man, his business put out a tender for quotes, he wanted dual homed gigE to his new office building, and he wanted a flat fixed fee per annum, which he was happy to pay up to 5 years in advance, and, he wanted an SLA, 100% uptime of at least 100 mbit, don’t give a fuck how you do it, just do it, and don’t bill me for it.

He got ZERO tenders, because his SLA requirement explicitly forbade the business model that *everyone* out there was founded on, so in the end he started a new company that did nothing but provide connectivity to his new office, he has his dual homed gigE fibre laid by his new ISP company which has only one customer, himself, with dual homed redundant microwave links on the roof to other sites in town where he has taken offices that hold nothing but the switchgear for the dishes on the roof and connectivity, and a third dish providing a satellite link.

He has 5 guys working shifts to give 24/7 coverage working on-site to ensure all these connections stay up, and to monitor the internal network, and 2 guys working day shifts to monitor and maintain the racks of servers and NAS boxen.

Frighteningly, his numbers for all this aren’t more than 20% higher than the lowballed numbers the various mega providers quoted him for the standard service, excluding the constant ongoing support calls and outages or brownouts where he had connectivity but not full bandwidth.

His “business” is selling racks to certain other business customers, each customer has a multiple of 2 full custom built racks, which are mirrors, and backups of their business, live, 24/7 replicated, backups, the deal is he can *literally* power down and disconnect the rack in 5 minutes from that customer’s phone call, and literally 5 minutes after that the rack is sealed in a custom enclosure and in a van with 2 drivers up front and 3 “guards” in back to verify seals aren’t broken etc, and that van can be at any of the London airports within another hour, or anywhere else you like at an average road speed of 50 mph….  so one copy goes to the customer, one stays in situ, and another one is built pronto to replace the one that was just pulled.

This is a very specific business segment and all of his customers are known to each other and themselves, some of them actually own others as subsidiaries,  in the same business sector… I can’t say much else about all this, but the data is basically customer records and billing databases.

The point of this is that for those who are wise to the iniquities of the “ongoing revenue from ongoing support” business model, which is essentially almost everything nowadays, there was a gap in the market, albeit a gap only someone with about 20 million of his own cash available to kick-start the project could exploit, but the gap was there, by design.

Market theory will tell you that such gaps are exploited naturally by market forces, not so, such gaps are CREATED naturally by big business, who seek to corral and control and manipulate customers, and while those who create these gaps do not exactly sow the ground with U238 and landmines, they do not do anything that might help anyone else exploit this territory.

I had the idea he is now doing, in 1998, at the dawn of the xDSL age and the end of the dial up 56k age, I didn’t have the wherewithal to exploit it, and back then I was thinking single hard disks, motorcycle couriers, small businesses with a single NT3.51 server, I wasn’t thinking big.

This man will himself tell you, part of the process before spending his own 20 big ones was to sit down with some heads and see if his project would in any way tread on the toes of those already in the marketplace, specifically, would starting his own ISP to get the product he wanted screw him with the major players, and the answer was no, on one condition, that the only customer his ISP ever served was himself.

This man told me, that it is in this business environment, that BT’s recent surprise and winning bid for nearly a billion quid for the football rights is being seen in the business world as the equivalent (and this is his words, not mine) of the USA launching Gulf War 1, which was of course all about freedom and democracy and mom’s apple pie for the kurds, fuck all to do with oil.

It is a gloves off, hat in the ring, launch *all* the thermonuclear missiles type of move, as far as all the other incumbents are concerned.

£897 million / 60 million (population) = £15 for every man woman and child in the UK, the vast majority of whom will neither be paying BT Sport customers, nor football fans.

It is, according to him, because Sky started selling broadband, hilariously effectively being a reseller of a reseller for a different BT group product, XDSL, but basically straying from the monthly subscription for a TV dish business model into the monthly subscription for a internet connection business model.

To be fair, it was a move Sky had to make, hello youtube, hello BBC iplayer, only a matter if time before the broadcast model fell to the on-demand model.

Nevertheless, it was an annexing the sudetenland moment, a kristallnacht moment, the gloves are off and now it is all down to burn rates and war chests.

The whole newspaper phone hacking thing, unrelated? Not at all, that was the archduke Ferdinand and some slimy Serbs, after all, the Murdoch empire has dirt to dish.

That is the trouble with following the money, if you aren’t aware enough you won’t see the drug dealer deliberately throwing away a million in product to burn a liability / competitor in a bust, or the biggest rivers on the planet being under the oceans.

You can’t even follow the billions, because that particular fiat currency might become worthless overnight, analogous to certain films where the protagonist must spend 100 million dollars in one year, and have *nothing* to show for it at the end…..

If you *know* you *have* to spend it now, while it is *still* worth *something*, or if you are involved in what is really a currency EXCHANGE, say 897 million Sterling at today’s “worth” for 10 million extra subscribers on monthly subscription….. the “sheeple eyeball month“, that might be a good exchange rate, I don’t know, depends if we are looking at the sheeple eyeball as a unit of currency that can be converted into sales of Brawndo, or votes, or apathy and the po-lice state…

Currently, in the UK, if you take “The Internet” to mean the backbone and all the switching gear, the local ISPs, the colo facilities and servers, home and business networking and computers, and increasingly the portable computers called mobile phones that shift *everything* as “data”, eg 0’s and 1’s, I have a truly frightening statistic for you.

The Internet = 17% of total UK electricity generating capacity.

and since all electricity consumed ultimately gets converted to heat, that means 17% of electrically sourced heat generation in the country is from “the internet”

That is bigger than *anything* since the days of steam dawned.

October 8, 2013

Stuck in the RAM

I have had jobs where sites stop being able to connect to the mother-ship, usually these are sites using an xDSL modem to log into the mother-ship, and login is of course by the trusty Radius server.

The problem isn’t that the cheapo xDSL modem is dead, though that is always the second thing investigated, or the cheapo xDSL line is dead, though that is always the first thing investigated, the problem is the Radius server just stopped working, and you can “fix” it by making a change that simply should not make any difference, changing the Radius password on the Radius server and xDSL modem / router.

I’ve had this on Cisco kit too, you need to TFTP a patch across so configure terminal and then give it an IP address, give your laptop and IP address and as a final sanity check before starting the TFTP you attempt to ping each box from the other, and it doesn’t work, and you can repeat the process ten times, and it won’t work, but if you reboot the Cisco box it will work first time.

Neither of these problems should exist, within the framework of “things as they should be” or rather “things as they are taught”.. for example it is heresy to suggest rebooting the Radius server, so it is discounted as a source of problems when a client site cannot log into a mother-ship, and for example it is heresy to suggest that any console / command line output from Cisco IOS is less than 100% truthful, and yet, if either of these statements were true, the fixes I used would not work.

When asked what the problem was, I say something “Was stuck in the RAM“, which is of course meaningless *and* inaccurate, but it is an explanation of sorts, and it is *far* closer to the truth than the official answers.

I’m not a coder, but I suspect the truth could be found somewhere in the realms of buffer overflows and bounds checking.

However, nobody calls a senior coder in when a remote office fails to connect to the mother-ship, (which one way or another is what 99% of my day job is about, making two sites connect to each other) so as a result you get anything *but* the truth.

As an aside, before I continue, if you are thinking that these are only problems encountered because I am working with cheap ass kit on cheap ass contracts for cheap ass clients, you would be as mistaken as you can possibly be… I absolutely guarantee that even if you have never set foot in the UK you will know 50% of the end users by brand name and reputation alone, even if they do not have a presence local to you.

Most of the kit is relatively speaking not very much money, anything from 500 to 5,000 bucks a box, and that is not a lot of money for a site that is turning over a million a week or an engineer that costs the end user 250 bucks before I even leave MY home, much less turn up on site… the kits itself is very mediocre quality, hardware wise, and that is me speaking as an engineer. Trust me on this.

Cisco kit sells because it all runs IOS, and finding people with Cisco qualifications who can write / edit / troubleshoot the config files, which are the files that tell the IOS what to do, is about as hard as finding a web designer, worst case scenario is there are several tens of thousands available for not very much about 90 milliseconds away in Mumbai.

This, by the way, is the SOLE reason everyone loves the cloud and virtual machines, virtual machines don’t have ANY hardware, so you NEVER need a field engineer to turn up and move a patch cable, power cycle to unstick the RAM, do an actual install or upgrade, or anything else…

So, back to the plot…

It’s down to ETHOS, car brakes were basically designed so the default state was that they were off, truck brakes were designed so the default state was they were on (and it took air pressure to keep them off).. so you pressurise a car system to make it stop, and you leak pressure out of a truck system to make it stop.

Ask yourself two questions;

  1. Which is safest.
  2. Which is cheapest to make.

Suddenly everything becomes clear.

Unless you are the bit of NASA writing the actual code that directly controls the spacecraft flight hardware, or the bit of GE writing the actual code that directly controls the control rods in the nuke pile, or… and I cannot think of a third fucking example…..  then option 2 always gets a look in.

Most of the time the bottom line is the bottom line.

“Good enough” (mostly)

By definition you are excluding the “one in a million” event from your calculations.

Which is great, *until* that event comes along… luckily for humanity in the sphere of my job until I fix it that means someone didn’t get their wages, someone didn’t get their stock in trade to sell, someone didn’t get a product or service that they were going to re-sell to someone else.

It can all be very serious and even life changing to the individuals concerned, but, the small print can cover that shit, nobody got killed…. fuck em…

We have had quite a few “cascade failures” in teh intertubez, they aren’t yet as serious as the power grid blackouts we have had, but then again the power grid is everywhere and literally in everything, and the net is still a relative newbie, chromebooks running exclusively on data living on a virtual machine in the cloud somewhere and 100% of fast net connectivity even to boot up into anything useful are still rare.

But the times, as Dylan said, they are a changin’

I am seeing, as a result of these changes, where the 1st, 2nd and 3rd level responses to problems simply do not work, because the RAM that is stuck is not in the local machine, it is in a central machine that MUST NOT be rebooted, or worse still, in a cloud virtual machine.

At that point the on the spot field engineer (me) can no longer just ring the remote server engineer, compare notes, agree on a likely cause and course of action, and resolve the problem.

I saw this happen, in the flesh, before my own eyes, for the first time, personally, yesterday, NetApp, unfortunately there were so many levels of virtuality that the server guy couldn’t diagnose which layer or virtual RAM was stuck, or where, and there was no possibility of simply rebooting as that would take the entire enterprise down and trash that whole day’s production, which was already sold and due to be in the shops tomorrow, or changing chap/tacacs/radius logins and resetting the problem that way… no worries, a whole new virtual machine was created, problem ignored.

Fuck it, I still get paid either way.

Asking people like me about my opinion on such things, well, that would be like asking a doctor about disease, fuck that, ask the pharma marketing machine, they have their eye on the bottom line.

June 3, 2013

If you build it, they will come…

Talking to a friend of mine, in a steady but boring IT admin job, been talking about bailing for years.

Along side my day job in IT, I have a side job, running my own business in IT.

I do the day job because the business doesn’t get enough custom.

The business is thoroughly professional, competent and economical with stunning service… its job is to convert gasoline into motive power.

The day job is total wank, a knackered old v8 intermittently firing on each cylinder, but who cares as its job is to convert gasoline into noise…

The thing my friend doesn’t get, the thing many hopeful small business owners don’t get, the thing many men don’t get, is this….


If there is ANY GAP WHATSOEVER in between the engineer and the end user, then whoever is in that gap, and it can be a layer cake 27 levels deep, is not interested in either the engineer or the end user, only in their own slice.

Let me tell you something about Cisco kit, it basically *is* the internet, a vast product range with an equally vast software and licensing range, basically quite small boxes, and you look at some of the small business stuff and it is a small box that retails for 10k, and the prices go on up from there.

But, with Cisco stuff you need three things;

  1. The Cisco box itself, e.g. the hardware
  2. The correct version of the IOS for both the box and the job in question
  3. The correct configuration file for the box, IOS and job in question.

It is as simple as that, three things, have them all on site when you turn up and the job is a piece of piss, even better, two of those things can be delivered electronically as an email attachment.

(OK, to be specific the IOS cannot be corrupt, and the config cannot contain any errors, both these are routine in real life)

You would think, that as the bottom layer in the cake the on-site guy like me would not have to ask those three questions about EVERY SINGLE FUCKING JOB you go to, you would think all the layers previous to me would get those three simple ducks in a row, you would think that BETWEEN all those layers it would be impossible for the job to progress down to me without those ducks in a row.

But no, since NO-ONE in those layers is concerned in any way with either the engineer or end user, only their own slice, I almost NEVER get all three handed on a plate to me, and if I do, items 2 or 3 are probably incorrect.

This is a TOUGH lesson to learn if you are an idealist, or naive, or young, or a man, but you better fucking learn it or your ass gets hung out to dry.

The lesson is nobody else gives a fuck, so you better not either, not beyond anything except covering your own ass, which means the ONLY fucking part of your job that matters is getting the paperwork straight, signed and filed.

You cannot correct this without removing every single layer that stands between the end user and the engineer, in effect, this means removing business/corporate from the playing-field, it ain’t gonna happen, it’s like asking for a hot dog minus the onions and sauce and bread, it’s a fucking sausage, not a hot dog.

It’s why the NAWALT thing is bullshit.

Take away all those components that make wimminz like that and what you have left is a drooling retard in adult nappies.

Those of you thinking hard times will cure this are equally delusional, hard times will decimate the layers in the cake between the end user and the engineer, but there are still going to be layers in the cake.

I’m reminded of the (true) clip in the film where Barnes-Wallis went to the War Department to ask for the loan of a Wellington bomber to run some prototype tests on the dam-buster bomb.

The clerk asks him why the fuck he thinks the war department will lend him a valuable Wellington bomber to play with

Perhaps, because I designed them (Wellington bombers)” says BW

So even in the darkest days of war there were layers of cake getting in the way, and they were the most incompetent and parasitic layers, all the semi useful ones got shit-canned.

Those of you trying to survive, or rebuild after an FRA etc, better get this shit straight and cold before you even think about going into business for yourself.

Sure, the local firms that endure a series of fuck-ups may well call you in to fix X at zero notice, and then they will go straight back to the layer cake, you will NEVER get your way in and carve your own niche, not while there are any layers there.


March 8, 2013

Living in a virtualised world

I’ve been busy of late, hence the dearth of new posts..

My current gig is basically summed up thus, world + dog are chasing economies wherever they can find them (a good example is regional offices that years ago would have been on leased lines now being connected by xDSL) and so ACME corp’s 447 regional offices get new Cisco 887 adsl routers and all that, and the IT management can then be outsourced and offshored…. 447 expensive leased lines dropped, the in house 500 strong IT department sacked en masse, loadsa money saved, trebles all around at the bean-counters offices.

But some cunt has to turn up with the box and physically plug in the patch cables and so on, and when, not if, when that shit breaks, some cunt has to turn up and physically reset or repair the thing that cannot be fixed remotely…. even if that someone is just a remote pair of hands for a resellers resellers resellers reseller….

Don’t get me wrong, this shit is slick, but it is a basic engineering principle that the more layers of complexity you build up, the more there is to go wrong… which is why twice in the last week alone the NatWest Bank customers have seen all the ATM‘s simply stop working and no on-line banking either, and this is being repeated across the nation in all things IT.

Like the song says, Do your fucking job till the end

Till your job ends that is…. meanwhile back at the gig the crowd I work for are all gung ho, gangbusters and corporate image, which is fucking great while it lasts, which is by definition going to be a finite amount of time, we are hyenas feeding on corpses, for the moment it is a banquet…

I smile sweetly at them all, and friday rolls around and I think to myself that is another week’s money grabbed, wonder what next week will bring, because you see I am old enough and cynical enough to know that in this solyent green world, the crowd I work for can disappear with as little warning as the jobs of those we are replacing with little Cisco boxes (themselves now made in the Czech republic, oh the irony) went down the swannee…

They tell me about all the valuable skills and qualifications I can earn while working for them, and there is an element of truth in that, but I had valuable skills and qualifications in my previous trade of marine engineering, and they don’t put food on the table today, but my survivalist attitudes to life do, so what is more useful to me?

Never take a job you aren’t prepared to walk away from on a moment’s notice is a good motto, because already in this young and dynamic company I can see signs of the rot setting in, and the infection is spreading a lot faster than it did 20 years ago… I see this all over now, they will give some guy a £25k car to turn up at the customers premises in, because it looks good, but no 5 dollar uniform sweatshirt, just wear something of your own, and if you are given any tools they came from walmart, it is utter fucking madness…. exactly the same brand of utter fucking madness that created the jobs in do in the first place… by sacking all the IT staff and sticking in a remotely managed router and some switches.

Of course VOIP is all the rage, so when the cute little cabinet goes down the ACME corp regional office does not just disappear from the HQ WAN, all the fucking phone lines go down too… how many of these sites have all this shit running on a UPS, even a cheap and nasty will only keep it running for ten minutes SOHO job from APC or similar?

You got it, haven’t seen a single fucking one yet….

It is fucking dreadfully incompetent and amateurish, I don’t give a flying fuck how swish and fancy and cute all this remotely managed Cisco kit is, WHEN IT IS WORKING, I don’t care how impressive the tricks are that you can do, WHEN IT IS WORKING, I don’t care with what ease you can do quite complex tasks, WHEN IT IS WORKING, all I see is a system that studiously ignores the 9,000lb gorilla in the room, what the fuck do you do when it stops working, and their answer to that is to point at dudes like me…. whoooosh…

So anyway I’m chilling after a job yesterday with another of the field engineers, who is of a similar age to me, and we are discussing this, and the one thing my extensive experience has taught me…. and this is from the year dot of web servers on…

  1. The least likely person to bork such a box is the field engineer sat there physically in front of it, in true CYA mode he covers his ass at every step, when I am asked to type in console commands for a box that has lost connectivity to a remote IT management centre I read and spell everything back phoenetically, and then ask them, do you want me to press return now? No matter how simple the command.
  2. The MOST likely person to bork such a box is the remotely connected tech telnetting in or whatever, they don’t give a fuck, and this is before they get confused between the three other field techs they are talking to simultaneously to me.
  3. The MORE of a wizard the remote tech is, the WORSE they will bork the box…

All of which means that instead of us field guys being remote waldoes for the megamind remote admin guys, which is how all this shit is marketed by the bean-counters, we are just another point of failure, for exactly the same reasons that someone playing Call of Duty will have a different approach to a crunchie on the ground in Afdiggastan with actual bullets flying around…Networkfailure

Now these people, if you push them, will admit that there are things like the graphic above, a “cascade failure”, but these same cunts have never had to RECOVER from one, because the fact is they have never been in one, of if they have, they were but one node…

I can distinctly remember being in a large hydroelectric turbine hall when a (local) cascade failure hit, because one of the turbines was tripped out by a vibration sensor, which they think was caused by a log getting down into the vent, so one goes down, and it takes aaaaaages to spin down, but the SOUND is indescribably different when it is not under load, and then the next one went because it was overloaded thanks to the first one going down, and then then remaining three went almost together…. and everyone is stood there looking at each other and the hall lighting goes out, and emergency DC lighting flicks on and the turbines continue to spool down… it is the most eerie motherfucking experience… and it took on the onsite diesel gen set and four hours or work before they could start spooling up again, another two hours to get the first two turbines synced to the grid, and another four hours for the remaining three.

But they had ENGINEERS on site, not fucking remote wizards and the only thing on-site some field techs told on a phone press this button now, now press this one, now type this in, now move that cable from here to there, OK I’m in, you can go to the next job ta….

SLA’s, well SLA’s are fulfilled if the resellers reseller can get a warm body on site within 4 hours, that warm body doesn’t have to actually DO anything, or FIX anything, he is just there so the SLA penalties can’t be invoked.

What the people I am currently working for do not know, that I do, is this.


So what happens in extreme cases, well someone ships a new box down, and it gets swapped out and we see if that fixes the problem, the only thing rarer than a UPS is the proverbial “smoking gun” when responding to an error call, nobody know what went wrong or what the causes were, and nobody gives a fuck, this job has had a 2 hour slot allocated to it, and that’s all there is.

Various three letter government agencies are waffling on about the threat of cyber terrorism, and hackers are getting sent to gitmo for 999 years of waterboarding pre trial, but the fact is that the real terrorists are all the fucking beancounters putting these bastard systems in place in the first fucking place, it isn’t IF it falls over, it is WHEN it falls over.

Currently these failures ain’t that bad, wossname bank goes down for 6 hours, wossname ISP goes down for 8 hours, wossname supermarket goes down for 4 hours, but no measures are being put in place to improve on this, on the contrary…. the opposite is what is happening.

Currently, cascade failures in IT have been confined to so called fucked up countries where fucked up stuff like the so called arab spring uprisings were going on, and again shit was blamed of guvvmint shutting shit down, hasn’t YET happened to a western country on the scale of the seventies east coast USA power grid cascade failure, which was ultimately caused by ONE part dying…  hasn’t happened YET.

But it’s gonna, why else is everyone getting the pre – emptive bullshit excuses in place about digital pearl harbours.

And it is not just ACME corp and your local supermarket and your local mobile phone shop doing this shit, it is also your local Court of law, your local Police station, your local lawyers, your local bank, your local hospital, and the technology is spreading in all these places.

Sure, they may well have a diesel genny out back that can be fired up to keep the lights on, but what fucking use is that when packets carrying everything from data to voice suddenly find no routes outside the LAN?

Which reminds me, next week’s money I need to buy myself a new NAS box and a couple of WD Red 3tb disks… lol


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